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Fothergilla major Large Fothergilla1

Edward F. Gilman 2


This 6- to 10-feet-tall shrub covers itself with soft, white flowers each spring before leaves emerge (Fig. 1). It appears to be covered with snow when in full bloom. Bright red, orange, or yellow fall color bring the shrub back to life before leaves fall to the ground.

Figure 1. Large fothergilla.
Figure 1.  Large fothergilla.

General Information

Scientific name: Fothergilla major
Pronunciation: faw-thur-GIL-luh MAY-jur
Common name(s): large fothergilla
Family: Hamamelidaceae
Plant type: shrub
USDA hardiness zones: 5 through 8A (Fig. 2)
Planting month for zone 7: year round
Planting month for zone 8: year round
Planting month for zone 9: year round
Planting month for zone 10 and 11: year round
Origin: native to North America
Uses: accent; border; mass planting
Availablity: somewhat available, may have to go out of the region to find the plant

Figure 2. Shaded area represents potential planting range.
Figure 2.  Shaded area represents potential planting range.


Height: 6 to 10 feet
Spread: 6 to 10 feet
Plant habit: round
Plant density: dense
Growth rate: slow
Texture: medium


Leaf arrangement: alternate
Leaf type: simple
Leaf margin: dentate
Leaf shape: elliptic (oval); obovate; orbiculate
Leaf venation: pinnate
Leaf type and persistence: deciduous
Leaf blade length: 2 to 4 inches
Leaf color: green
Fall color: red; yellow
Fall characteristic: showy


Flower color: white
Flower characteristic: pleasant fragrance; spring flowering


Fruit shape: irregular
Fruit length: less than .5 inch
Fruit cover: dry or hard
Fruit color: black
Fruit characteristic: inconspicuous and not showy

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: not particularly showy; typically multi-trunked or clumping stems
Current year stem/twig color: brown
Current year stem/twig thickness: thin


Light requirement: plant grows in part shade/part sun
Soil tolerances: acidic; loam; clay; sand
Drought tolerance: moderate
Soil salt tolerances: unknown
Plant spacing: 36 to 60 inches


Roots: usually not a problem
Winter interest: no special winter interest
Outstanding plant: plant has outstanding ornamental features and could be planted more
Invasive potential: native plant that often reproduces into nearby landscapes
Pest resistance: no serious pests are normally seen on the plant

Use and Management

The rounded form and large size makes this most appropriate for planting in a larger yard, away from the house. Use it in a shrub border to spice up the yard in spring and fall. Plant it near the corner of a large commercial building and leave it unpruned to allow the natural rounded form to emerge. Clipping the plant can reduce flowering so locate it where it can grow to its natural size.

Fothergilla can be grown in any soil except those that are excessively drained. Plants suffer in extended drought, especially in full sun. A clayey soil that holds moisture but drains well is ideal.

Pests and Diseases

No pests or diseases are usually serious enough to be damaging.


1. This document is FPS-215, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date October 1999. Reviewed February 2014. Visit the EDIS website at
2. Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

Publication #FPS-215

Date: 5/27/2015

      Organism ID


      • Gail Hansen de Chapman